The dispute between the Lebovic Golf Club and more than a dozen Jewish charities keeps getting more bizarre by the day.
A month ago, about 25 charities cancelled planned tournaments at the Aurora, Ont., golf course, when they learned that kosher food would no longer be available at the course.
On June 6, 17 Jewish organizations – including schools, synagogues and charitable foundations – were sent a letter carrying the Lebovic Enterprises letterhead, which asked that they return “all the moneys we have given you.” The same letter was sent to The CJN.
The letter, signed by Wolf Lebovic, president of Lebovic Enterprises, asks for the organizations to return over $19 million.
The amounts requested by Lebovic range from $1,969,000 at the high end, to $520,000 at the low end.
In addition to the list of organizations and the amounts they allegedly owe, the letter reads as follows:
“Dear Sir/Madam, Pursuant to your cancellation of your golf tournament and your breach of our Event Agreement we ask that you return all the monies that we have given to you in the amounts shown below.”
The letter is odd in that it is addressed to a number of groups, each one being told what the others allegedly owe. The letter does not explain what the alleged breach was, why the organizations allegedly owe money or how the amounts were calculated. It does not set a deadline for payment and does not suggest that legal action will ensue if the payments are not made.
The CJN contacted five of the organizations, but two declined to comment and the others did not respond at all.
Similarly, The CJN did not receive a reply for more information from Sam Palermo, vice president of finance of Lebovic Enterprises, who sent us the letter.
In past years, the Lebovic Golf Club was the site of a number of charitable golf tournaments that raised substantial amounts for the hosting organizations. At the time, Applause Catering provided the COR-supervised kosher food, but Applause Catering left before the 2019 golf season teed off.
That left Lebovic without a kosher caterer.
Several charities learned of the absence of a kosher meal option only weeks before their tournaments were scheduled to take place.
Twenty-five organizations were left scrambling to find alternative venues at the last minute. Many did, but one school cancelled its tournament outright.
In late May, the Kashruth Council of Canada, better known as COR, sent Lebovic a letter apologizing for not attending to Lebovic’s concerns about kosher certification in a timely manner.
Richard Rabkin, managing director of COR, told The CJN in an email that, “Up until recently, there was an exclusively COR-supervised kosher kitchen at the Lebovic golf course, which was used by a COR-certified kosher caterer. Recently, after Lebovic terminated its relationship with the caterer, it decided to end its relationship with COR entirely.”
Sources said that Michael Mostyn, the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, had requested a meeting with Wolf Lebovic to discuss the cancellations and try to resolve outstanding issues. The demand letter sent to the Jewish charities suggests that those efforts have not borne any fruit.